SURAT: Gujarat Congress president Amit Chavda Saturday visited Surat to meet the bereaved kin of 22 students who were killed in a massive fire in a commercial complex in the city's Sarthana area, and claimed it was not an accident but "murder due to negligence of the administration".
Congress leader Hardik Patel too termed the incident as "murder" and demanded the resignation of Chief Minister Vijay Rupani.
Apart from Chavda, leader of the opposition in the state Assembly, Paresh Dhanani also visited the city Saturday morning and took part in the last rites of the deceased students.
On Friday afternoon, a blaze in the four-storeyed Takshashila Enclave killed 22 students of a coaching institute imparting art and craft training.
While most were charred to death, some lost their lives after jumping off the higher floors to escape the fire, police said.
"The administration regularises risky construction in existing buildings in the name of impact fee. Due to corruption, 22 youngsters have lost their lives," Chavda told reporters.
"This is a very sad incident. I would request the government to ensure that all such construction, even those for which impact fee has been collected, be reviewed, he said.
"This is not an accident but murder due to negligence of the administration. Why have such constructions not been reviewed and checked," he asked and went on to claim that the Fire Brigade was not properly equipped to deal with the situation.
Speaking on the incident, Patel said, "No solid action has been taken 24 hours after the fire.
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani is busy in the BJP's Vijay Utsav, the CM and Surat mayor should tender their resignations on moral grounds.
The administration has murdered innocent students," he tweeted.
Dhanani expressed grief over the loss of lives and said the government should ensure nobody else falls prey to such negligence.
"This is not just the grief of the families who have lost their loved ones but of the entire state. The incident has hurt the entire state. I pray to God to give strength to the families to bear the loss," he said.
Following the incident, Sarthana police lodged a case against three persons, including the owner of the coaching centre.
While coaching class owner Bhargav Butani was arrested Saturday, two persons who built the ill-fated Takshashila Enclave are on the run, Surat Police Commissioner Satish Sharma told reporters Saturday.